Ivy sat at the breakfast table, absentmindedly scooping her spoon full of oatmeal and letting it fall off with a soft, unappealing “plop”. Ginny glared at her in annoyance, but Ivy didn’t care. The previous night with Flynn had only fueled the fire of her not-so-small crush.

“Can you please stop that?” Ginny finally said. “I’m going to lose my appetite.”

“Probably for the best if you want to fit in the gowns you buy two sizes too small,” Ivy mumbled.

“Daddy!” Ginny huffed. “Please say something.”

Herman didn’t bother looking away from his paper. His brow was furrowed and he seemed too concerned with what he was reading to hear Ginny.

“Daddy!” she repeated. “I’m talking to you!”

“They found another one,” he said.

“Another what?” Ivy asked.

“There was another murder. A young woman.”

Ivy and Genevieve went silent and got up, moving to look over their father’s shoulder. He quickly folded the paper shut and gave them both stern looks.

“These images aren’t for young ladies,” he said. “I don’t want you having those nightmares again, Ivy. None of us slept for months.”

“I’ve outgrown it,” Ivy promised. “Please?”

“At least tell us her name,” Ginny said. “What if it’s someone we know?”

“Doubt it,” Herman shrugged. “The family is new to the area. No one knows them very well yet.”

“New?” Ivy said, feeling her heart sink. “Her name wasn’t Samantha, was it?”

Herman and Ginny both looked at her in surprise.

“Well, yes. It was,” Herman said. “Ivy, you were her friend?”

“Yes,” she said. “Well, no. I had just met her. At the pageant. She was so nice.”

Herman gave Ivy a gentle pat on the hand.

“Well, my darling, I’m sorry for your loss.”

“But why?” Ginny frowned. “Who would want to kill her?”

“We didn’t know this family,” Herman reminded the girls. “This girl may have been kind, but there was no telling who she liked to associate with. She may have been in with the wrong crowd.”

Ivy didn’t feel good about it. She took the paper from her father before he could protest. When she opened it, a gruesome image greeted her. Samantha’s body, bloody and full of stab wounds. It was laid gently and elegantly on a bench with her hands folded over her stomach. Flowers decorated her hair and covered her wounds, as if the murderer had created a makeshift funeral wake for her. Written in her blood on the ground below her were the words “RARE BEAUTY”. Ginny’s hand flew up to cover her mouth.

“It’s just like the last one,” Ivy said quietly. “It must be the same killer.”

Herman snatched the paper back.

“That’s enough,” he said. “We don’t discuss these things at the table. But in an abundance of caution, you girls are no longer allowed to go out unaccompanied until these attacks quiet down.”

“But Daddy, Ginny and I have different schedules,” Ivy complained. “I don’t want to follow her around all day.”

“Then I suppose they ought to find that murderer soon.” he said.

Immediately, he realized his mistake. But it was too late. The gears were already turning in Ivy’s head.

“I have to go,” Ginny said. “I have another fitting for my bridesmaid dress before Molly’s wedding. Get dressed, Ivy.”

“But I-”

“Go with your sister,” Herman said sternly. “No more ifs or buts.”

Ivy scowled and stomped up the stairs. Oh, they’d catch the murderer all night. And if the local police couldn’t do anything, she and her partner sure would. An investigation that J.R. Bogues would die for. She quickly got dressed and scrawled out a small note, slipping it into her purse as they left.

The secret place.
4:00 PM
We’re going to catch a killer.

She could only pretend to be so interested in Genevieve’s bridesmaid dress fitting as she anxiously looked around the dress shop. She finally spotted the tailor’s daughter, sneaking away to catch her.

“Hey!” Ivy said.

The girl jumped three feet in the air in surprise.

“Goodness,” she said shakily. “What are you doing, sneaking around in these times?”

“Penny, right?” Ivy asked. “You know Flynn.”


“I have a mission for you,” Ivy said. “Critical importance. Can you help me?”

“A… mission?”

Ivy took the note out of her purse and pressed it into Penny’s palm.

“I need you to get this note to Flynn,” she said. “Please. As soon as you can. It could be a matter of life or death.”

“Um,” Penny said quietly. “Uh, yeah. Sure. I’ll get the note to him.”

“Thank you,” Ivy grinned, squeezing her hands. “It’s much appreciated. You’re very pretty, by the way. You should wear lace more often. It suits you.”

Penny looked shocked, concerned, and flattered at the same time. The poor girl didn’t even know what to say. Not that she had much of a chance before Ivy flounced off again before Ginny noticed she was gone. The case was open.